For a while I was part of the ill-fated startup InfoMove. They don't exist anymore, but for some reason the web site lives on. While I was there, I experienced first hand the challenge of telematics. People demand services that might kill them and others.
But Telematics are here to stay. Various flavors of telematics are appearing on new vehicles from most makers. The push, as with most things, is the screen. People want screens in their vehicles because we want screens in everything.
This quick rant from the Valley Advocate shows that some people are recognizing that all features are not necessarily a good thing. In their infancy, telematics are destined to be defined by auto companies that want flash to sell new cars -- rather than true safety and driver efficiency features.
Recently I rented a car in LA, the woman at the rental company happily told me that my car had a DVD player. Like I would watch a DVD while driving in LA. But there are plenty of companies placing DVDs and Computers in vehicles.
This one from VeaLink shows a full computer screen for the driver.
There are many ways to implement telematics safely and effectively. The growth of glitz-telematics will likely outpace its development, however. Next year, look for driver distraction regulations at a government bodies near you!
From the Slacker Manager comes this nice piece about Accenture's new product which allows people to send directed RSS messages directly to your computer as a screen saver. The concept is that when your screensaver is up you must be zoned out and not doing anything else because certainly all your active time is spent glued to some windows GUI or other.
What's nasty here isn't that they want to do RSS to screen saver ... the point is that they aren't marketing it to you, the user. They are marketing it to people who want to shove advertising down your already info-mottled throat.
When my screen saver is up, I'm either away from my desk or doing something else and the screensaver is saving me from paying attention to my computer. So, please, do not save my screen with this thing.
This article from Directions, a GIS trade site, describes the growing industry of collaboration and data sharing around Geographic Information Systems. The applications in this market are still thin and most collaboration merely exists through common data repositories. However, one interesting product is built on the Groove Microsoft Office Collaboration system.
I've now added a blog to my 360 Yahoo site. It's a test-kitchen blog where you'll likely see mirrors of posts here. I will likely do other posts to just push the app around.
Initial reaction is it has a good, easy to use interface, lots of little tools for people to use. I haven't worked much on customization yet. Thanks to Ana for inviting me and letting me use up more and more of my time!
Seattle has an active Blogging community that I, unfortunately, have not been a part of. The reason for this is that the meet once a month on a Wednesday night when, invariably, something else has been going on for me. I have regretted this because they do seem very active and I like the people I've met who are involved.
They use the Meetup tool to plan and advertise their meetings to the group. It's a great tool and has worked really well for them, as far as I can tell.
Recently Meetup decided to start charging for their previously free service. Meetup, at last check, is not a charitable organization, although they will give $50 to the Red Cross for a Snowglobe. So we, as customers, should want to give them some money so they don't go bankrupt and we lose the useful service.
In researching this post (yes, some bloggers actually get some facts), I found it really hard to find out exactly what I would be charged if I started a group. Here's what Meetup Says and the Forum the guide you to for more info. Maybe I missed something obvious, but they should make it clearer what the charges now are. I believe they are $19 a month.
The Seattle Blogging community, who are used to free tools like Blogger, del.icio.us, and Flickr. Were cranky about the fees and, because they are bloggers, they blogged about it. Then someone from Meetup responded and used the politically charged term "belly-achin'" (see first comment of the previous link).
This led to a fire storm chronicled here and culminating here.
The interesting thing here is the impact on the community and the reactions of the community to a variety of things. The community was annoyed because the rules of their community were suddenly changed because of a tax imposed by King James. The tax was slight, but constant. This meant that every time someone came to a meeting they would be divided into one group (the $2 self-taxed) or the other (the free riders).
Because this is a self-selected community, the free riders were people who were lawful previous weeks but, for whatever reason, couldn't easily come up with money. If this happened annually, that would be one thing, a short discomfort for the free rider and then merely a memory. But with monthly fees the free rider is conspicuous in their actions every week.
Again, these are people who previously were lawful, who have been put into an unlawful position through no fault of their own. Even if the fee is voluntary, it does not feel good for people with a moral conscience to not pay in to it.
This also creates a limited and adversarial commons where one previously did not exist. Members who are paying, even if it is only $2, achieve unwanted status for doing so. But it is status nonetheless. Non-paying members will know they didn't pay and, because they are moral and carry some guilt, will be less likely to participate. They feel less ownership in the group because they are not contributing the same amount.
Again, you may say that $2 isn't enough differential to buy power. However this article about Traffic.com suggests otherwise. Traffic.com donated about $16,000 to political candidates and walked away with $27 Million in government projects. Scaled for the size of the group, $2 is greater than $16,000.
The blogging community took this and ran with it, including me I guess. But, like most blogs, they were fracas-focused and not interested in the underlying issues.
Meetup.com should be able to charge for their service, but they should also be cognizant that imposing a monthly fee on groups that meet monthly will have an impact on the community of those groups and, therefore, their business. I might suggest a less-constant revenue stream.
Here is a really nice, succinct description of RSS, why it's useful and tools to use it. If you are like me and have to describe it all the time, this is a great resource. If you are like everyone else and have no idea what it is, check it out.
When the Tsunami hit southeast Asia last year, I was in a quandry. I searched the web for ways that I could lend professional support to the relief and recovery efforts - but there was precious little information out there. Mostly I found people lamenting that they were in my situation.
Mathaba suggests that people can skype avatar themselves in such situations. (def Skype | Avatar) Whether you are look for help or to provide it, you can use an avatar in skype to provide the pertinent information for people who may satisfy your need. The skype search could look for keywords in bios and IDs and return a laundry list of people interested in the issue at hand.
This would turn Skype into an instant moblization mechanism providing context sensitivity to the smart mobs concept. Previously we had to know who was in our affinity group. This would allow a person to instantly join an affinity group or, conversely, opt out of one.
This site is now mirrored on the BSish Superblog. This is a Superblog of Brainstorms members, started by Ana Ulin. A Superblog reads the RSS of member blogs and posts them in one large blogglob. This post as well will show up on the superblog, where it will be self-referential.
This is sort of an experiment to see if the Superblog concept holds merit.
One thing you can do with a Superblog is have it read the RSS feeds of all the blogs you like and then aggregate them. This makes it easy for you to see your blogs in one place and easy to refer your colleagues to things you like to read. It can also make a big jumbled mess of posts that have little relevance to one another. Of course, most individual blogs fit that description anyway.